Dr. John

Record Review

Phases and Stages

Dr. John

Creole Moon (Blue Note) This album could have been so much better. It had the potential to bookend 1992's career highlight, Goin' Back to New Orleans. It even looks like a killer recording, with cover art the Rolling Stones would die for. Instead, Creole Moon comes off sounding like Dr. John's greatest near-hits, 14 tracks that just miss the mark. That's not to say the music is bad; it's not. The rhythm-ridden Creole Moon is loaded with the good doctor's signature funky, New Orleans-style noodlings, as if he decided to pay tribute to his own brassy career in the Crescent City. This isn't a bad idea, as "Bruha Bembe" easily evokes the Night Tripper, "Food for Thot" sounds appropriately Neville-y, "Monkey & Baboon" tips its top hat to Dave Bartholomew, and "You Swore" cannibalizes "Right Place, Wrong Time." Nevertheless, the potential of beauties like "Imitation of Love," co-written with Doc Pomus, and the title track are lost in Dr. John's all-over-the-keyboard style. Here's a man for whom the ability to groove is part of his genetic makeup. He's a master of the genre, one who can dance from second-line rhythms to rock to juju to jazz without breaking step, though you'd be hard-pressed to name one who has produced so much mediocre music. So much of Creole Moon is almost good. But it should have been so much better.

**

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